|The Walls of Jericho
Author: QuantumSheep PM
Over four years after the end of the Human-Covenant War, renegade elements aim to disturb the fragile peace between humanity and the former Covenant races. A Spartan-III and a veteran Skirmisher find themselves working together to track down a powerful terrorist, only to become caught up in a conspiracy that threatens to ignite another war.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 30 - Words: 171,405 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 01-29-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8960700
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
October 9th, 2557
There was a sense of anticipation, mingled with a bit of dread, when the main entrance was forced open. The metal bulkhead was of little challenge to the Spartan, as one of the many perks of being such a soldier was strength in excess of that of an average human. The darkness beyond did little to alter the his feelings, with his mind set solely on the mission at hand and keeping most of his emotions carefully suppressed. He had been briefed on the situation and sent in alone in order to keep the whole scenario under wraps. New Sanctuary was a prosperous mining colony on the edge of UNSC space, one of the few that had been left intact during the Human-Covenant War. The people here were also very wary of the UNSC and would not take kindly to a direct intervention on their affairs from that organization. However, the nature of the current situation had been serious enough for a Spartan to be called in to deal with it.
Spartan A-079, a First Lieutenant, also carried the more ordinary name of 'Leon'. He was in his late twenties, a Spartan-III who had found himself carrying out missions for a more specialized branch of the military. The other Spartans like him were spread out across multiple units and organizations, many sent on the more dangerous and/or sensitive missions that came up. The current situation involved a mine and a missing strike team, one that had been sent in to investigate reports of alien activity on the colony, particularly around the aforementioned mine.
The mine itself was situated in a fairly desolate region, covered with sparse desert shrubs and dotted with mesas and buttes. The heat was fairly uncomfortable, made worse by the fact that it was midday and the sun was at its highest point, its harsh rays beating down on the desert all around. Leon was outfitted in a set of Mark VI armour with an Operator model helmet, the visor a deep grey colour to help filter out the harsh light. Being inside the bulky armour with its internal cooling systems did provide some relief from the desert heat, but not enough to stop sweat from building across his form. Leon's face under that helmet was pale, with dull blue eyes and close-cropped brown hair, a few beads of sweat forming on his brow as he took a step back and regarded the mine entrance.
There was a stairwell leading down into the mine, with light fixtures set along the walls at evenly spaced intervals. Leon carried a MA5D assault rifle, with a sidearm stuck to the armour at his waist and a few grenades and spare magazines in pouches that ran across his chest. He started down the stairwell, entering the relative coolness of the tunnel as it took him underground, going on for some distance before it opened up into a much larger cavern. The rock down here was mostly light brown, with noticeable ore deposits in some parts of the walls. The cavern took up a few levels of the mine, with tunnels branching off and catwalks up above. Leon stopped where he was for a moment, testing his helmet radio.
"This is Spartan A-079." Leon's tone was level, his voice carrying some trace of an Outer Colonies accent, a remnant of his childhood growing up on a world that had been destroyed by the Covenant. "Commander, can you hear me?"
"I can hear you." Commander McGillon's voice broke in through his helmet radio, hissing with some amount of static but still perfectly audible. "Are you in the mine?"
"Yeah." Leon regarded the cavern again, his gaze going to the bodies on the far end. They were scattered about, with dried blood stains on the floor around them. He narrowed his gaze when he saw all of this, knowing for certain that the strike team had been met with hostility. There were no miners here, or any other civilians for that matter, as they had evacuated days before when a chemical spill had occurred in one of the lower levels of the mine. Recently gathered intelligence suggested that the whole thing had been some kind of ruse, giving whoever had come here afterward free reign of the mine.
"There are bodies down here." Leon started down the stairs ahead, going to the cavern floor before making his way over to the nearest corpse. They were all marines, outfitted in the grey armour of the UNSC Maine Corps. Leon put a gloved hand to one of the blood stains, noticing that it was still relatively fresh. The wounds of the marine in front of him had been cauterized, a tell-tale sign that energy weaponry had been used.
"It's the strike-team," Leon added.
"Any survivors?" McGillon's tone was grim. Elise McGillon, in the months Leon had known her, seemed unlike what her personnel record stated. She was apparently too reckless for some of the higher-ups, despite acting almost completely by-the-book during the time Leon had known her. It might have something to do with the fact that she had been relegated to a sort-of "supervisor" role rather than one of direct combat.
Leon stood up and looked around at the other bodies. None of them were moving, but as he was about to write-off the whole strike team, one of the presumably dead marines did suddenly squirm and cough. Leon raced over to the young African-American marine, who sat partially slumped against a stack of metal crates. He had been struck in the chest by some sort of energy weapon, the armour around the site having melted away and fused with the cauterized flesh behind it. Leon was quick to remove a first aid kit from one of the pouches on his armour, starting on cleaning the wound as best he could. The marine's rank was Corporal and the tag on the front of his armour, from what Leon could make out amongst the scorch marks, was 'Griggs'.
"Corporal, what happened?" Leon asked, using one hand to tilt the dazed marine's face towards him. Griggs coughed and looked to be in a daze, something that was understandable for his current condition.
"There's..." Griggs moved one hand, clutching the one Leon had at his chest. The marine gave a serious expression, as if there was far more at stake here than a mere alien raid. Leon had not been told what aliens to expect as none of his superiors had known, but he had assumed that Covenant loyalists might have been involved. Perhaps even Sangheili insurgents, as they had been gaining numbers in the recent months, determined to overthrow what government they had.
"They came for..." Griggs struggled to form a full sentence. Leon could see that the marine had little chance to survive his wounds, but it appeared he would not let himself go before telling Leon what he needed to know. "They lured...us..."
"Why? What did they want? And who were they?" Leon put a hand to Grigg's chin, gripping him firmly in the hopes of keeping him conscious a little while longer. "Look at me, Corporal. What happened here?" He got the impression that his superiors had not told him the whole story.
"Lieutenant, leave the man," McGillon interjected, his voice stern. "We've just received reports that there is a convoy of vehicles heading for your location. Local authorities, no doubt."
"What haven't I been told?" Leon turned away from Griggs and stood up, doing his best to keep the building feeling of anger from seeping into his voice. "Why would a squad of marines be lured here? What's going on? I don't want to be left in the dark-"
"If you can't find the perpetrators or any intel on their whereabouts, get out of there. I'm going to abort the mission."
"No, you can't do that." It was a fairly futile demand to make, but something told him there was far more to the current mission than a typical alien raid.
Leon's gaze went to the odd man out which was, in this case, the body of a UNSC official that had been just on the edge of his vision, concealed behind a large drilling machine. Griggs had stopped moving, having succumbed to his wounds and leaving Leon was no real source of information. He certainly could not rely on McGillon, not when important details had been left out of his briefing.
There was a small portable computer by the official's corpse, one that had had its hard drive completely ripped out. Leon recognized the model of computer: it was a sort used solely for the transport of artificial intelligences, capable of emitting a small holographic image of the particular AI. He had worked with similar technology in the past. The official was a middle-aged and bald man with a grey beard. He beared a rather nasty wound across the throat, as if someone had sliced it open with a sharp blade. A quick search of the official revealed an identification tag that distinguished him as a member of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
"Your orders are to get out of there, Lieutenant," McGillon said sternly. "Get out of there before the local police arrive, otherwise we're going to have a hell of a time explaining why we've got a Spartan on the ground."
"What about the marines?"
"We can explain that away as a training exercise gone wrong. You, on the other hand, aren't as easily explained. And one thing we don't need is you shooting up a bunch of colonial cops..."
"I don't intend on shooting them up."
"They'll probably happily shoot at you. Face it, Lieutenant: You're not that expendable."
It was strange, hearing that. Spartan-IIIs had been intended to be expendable right from the beginning. It was only now, after the war had decreased their numbers considerably, that such useful assets were not so happily given up.
"Why is there an ONI official here?" Leon asked, standing up. He heard noise from somewhere nearby, his gaze going towards a stack of metal boxes at the far end of the cavern. There was nothing there, not at this instant anyway. Alert, he kept his assault rifle in one hand as he stuck the dead man's ID into a pouch at his waist.
"How about you get out of that mine?" McGillon's voice was laced with frustration.
"What's going on here?" Leon looked up again, seeing a flash of movement across the catwalk. It was a large figure, perhaps over eight feet, one that went sprinting along the catwalk and out of view within seconds. Leon started straight after it, heading back up the metal stairs before getting back onto the catwalk.
"The official is down there because the miners discovered Forerunner ruins. ONI is very interested in that sort of thing." McGillon sounded resigned, but knew it was probably better to clue the Spartan in on all the details. Leon was focused on catching up with whoever he had just seen, but he did make out McGillon's words clearly. "At least, that's the word we got from the miners. I'm not sure if it was proven to be true or not..."
"Did they tell him to bring a military grade AI with him?" Leon spoke in-between breaths as he sprinted after the mysterious figure, heading into a narrow tunnel that winded up and down for some distance. He caught a glimpse of the figure as he turned a corner onto a fairly level stretch of the tunnel: the figure was certainly over eight feet, outfitted in light grey armour and undoubtedly alien in appearance. He recognized the species instantly: Sangheili, or an 'Elite' as the unofficial term went.
"Why do you ask that?" McGillon asked.
"You saw that computer I found on him. The AI's storage disk was gone, so I assume the Elite I'm chasing now might have it. I'm hoping that's the case, anyway."
"What?" McGillon was surprised to hear this. Leon kept on the alien's tail as the tunnel took them both out of the mine's rear entrance and into an outdoor loading area of some kind. Leon stopped for a minute, watching as a large six-wheeled truck emerged from around a mesa ahead. There was still about fifty metres of open ground between it and the Elite, but the truck had started to speed towards them with the clear intention of picking up the alien.
There were two more similarly dressed Elites, both of whom emerged from behind one of the parked trucks across the loading area. Getting a better look at their armour now, Leon could see that it was a ragtag setup of differing kinds of armours, as if these Elites did not have the resources to get proper military sets. It was not just Elites either: about three Jackals, or 'Kig-Yar' as the proper name went, appeared nearby. They were shorter but far more agile than the tall and regal Elites, with the three of them carrying bright blue oval energy shields that were emitted from devices on their forearms. Their avian appearances and bird-like screeches gave them an intimidating persona, though Leon had dealt with many of the creatures before and was not so easily fazed.
While the Elite he had been pursuing started for the truck, which had pulled to a halt nearby, Leon drew up his assault rifle and opened fire on the Jackals as they spread out. Rifle rounds kicked up sand and pummelled into the energy shields the Jackals were carrying. One of them buckled under the stress, leaving a brief opening that Leon exploited quickly, sending rifle rounds into the alien's side, ripping holes through its flesh and causing it to fall upon the ground into a pool of its dark purple blood. The other two opened fire from the protection of their portable energy shields, both wielding plasma pistols that sent green bolts of energy zipping by Leon.
The Spartan dived into cover, watching as the two Elites up ahead started to move in on his flank, sending fire from their plasma rifles his way. Leon knew he had to get the AI disk back, as letting something like that fall into enemy hands would be disastrous for the UNSC. These particular aliens were definitely insurgents of some sort, perhaps even mercenaries as such work had become popular with some within the former Covenant species. The war had left all the races in the Covenant ruined in many ways, the religion they had so fanatically followed proven false and their cultures upturned as a result. Hiring themselves out to warlords and private contractors seemed like a good alternative for some of the alien soldiers who had been put out of work once the war had ended.
The Elite whom Leon had been pursuing was close to making it to the truck. The local authorities that McGillon had told him were coming had finally started to arrive: several grey-painted roofed Warthog vehicles came into view, two of which came to a halt outside the loading area. It served as an adequate distraction, with Leon hosing down the remaining two Jackals with assault rifle fire, cutting them down once their shields failed.
The officers who emerged from the Warthogs were lightly armed and armoured but nonetheless opened fire on the two Elites in the loading area. These Elites lacked their usual sophisticated shielding technology and went down fairly easily, though this equated to a few volleys of rifles fire rather than the copious amounts that would have been required had they been fitted with personal shields.
Another two of the local authority vehicles started after the now fleeing truck. The Elite that Leon had been pursuing had climbed into the back of the truck and was firing his plasma rifle from the opening there, sending bolts of blue energy into the Warthogs going into pursuit. Leon emerged from cover and started running after the truck, stopping on the dirt road behind it before taking aim at its rear and opening fire.
"If he has the AI..." McGillon's voice was serious. She could see everything Leon could through his live helmet camera feed, as well as his vital signs. Even so, there was a lot that McGillon had to deal with on her end, least of all some rather worried officers who had started barging into the operations room where she was coordinating the mission from.
"Can't you do a scan and find out?" Leon asked. The magazine on his assault rifle clicked on empty and the truck was getting well out of range. He turned around and headed for one of the parked Warthogs, receiving a few surprised glances from the colony police officers as he climbed into one of the vehicles. "Better yet, start searching for any spacecraft, such as a Phantom that these guys might be planning on using to escape. I seriously doubt they're just going to keep driving through the desert."
"I'm on it," McGillon said before falling silent, shifting her focus onto this new task.
Leon turned to one of the officers. These Outer Colony types had never been very friendly to anyone from the UNSC, but right now Leon needed some help.
"I need someone to drive," he said bluntly. That way he could focus on disabling the truck, rather than having to do two complicated things at once.
"What you really need to do is get out of the car," one of the officers said. He was a well-built man who looked to be in his forties, with brown eyes and a moustache. "I don't know what's going on here, so for all I know you could be working with those alien bastards..."
Leon sighed, though this was not visible to the officers as it occurred under his helmet. Settling into the driver's seat, he was glad to see the keys were still in the ignition. Shifting the vehicle into the appropriate gear, Leon put his foot on the accelerator and sent the Warthog speeding forwards, a plume of dust erupting in its wake. The two officers he had left behind could do little to stop him.
The truck was far up ahead, speeding along a highway that winded across the desert. This road ran between mesas with narrower dirt roads branching off, some of which lead to small settlements and other mining complexes. The truck itself was fairly slow compared to the Warthog, allowing Leon to catch up to it fairly quickly. There were two other Warthogs racing behind it, both containing local police officers. One of them had started shooting at the truck's rear, only for the Elite in the back to return fire with a plasma rifle. Leon watched as the bolts blasted through the windshield on the Warthog, striking the driver who slumped against the steering wheel and sent the vehicle into an abrupt swerve that took it off-road. It flew off an embankment before rolling downhill a few times, coming to rest on its side.
Leon came up behind the truck, keeping his foot on the accelerator as he took his hands off of the wheel and pulled out his pistol. The Elite was at the back of the truck, shooting at the other Warthog, blowing out its windshield in a similar fashion to the previous one. The driver hit the brakes in a panic, bringing the Warthog to an abrupt halt.
Leon took aim with his pistol and pulled the trigger, feeling the powerful side-arm buckle slightly in his grip. It was difficult to get a clean shot on a moving vehicle from another moving vehicle, though of the three he managed to fire he saw that at least one found its mark. The Elite grunted as a round tore through his arm, causing him to drop the plasma rifle which in turn clattered out the back of the truck and onto the road, far out of reach.
"Lieutenant, I think I may have located a Covenant Phantom drop-ship on its way to your position," McGillon said at that moment, catching Leon off-guard for a second. The Elite had retreated further back into the truck, allowing the Spartan a moment of reprieve. "It was flying low and on minimal power so it was hard to detect, but it's there."
"Can you send someone to intercept?" Leon asked. He continued to watch the rear of the truck, waiting for the Elite to show its face again.
"I'm working on it. The officers up here would much rather keep this whole operation low-key. If word got out that we lost a military AI..."
"We're not going to lose it." Leon was determined to stop the AI from falling into the hands of the enemy, aware of what may happen if they got away with it.
He used one hand on the steering wheel while his other gripped his pistol. He took the Warthog up alongside the truck and brought it close to the driver's cabin. At this close proximity, he attempted to get a look through the side window but was unable to get a clear view. He raised the pistol and fired a few shots which blew the window out and took the driver by surprise, judging from the way the truck swerved suddenly. It collided with the side of Leon's Warthog. The Spartan was rocked about in his seat and had to quickly grab hold of the steering wheel in order to put the vehicle back on track.
"What's the status on the Phantom?" Leon asked.
"I'd say you've got about five minutes," McGillon said. "We could send in fighters, but they wouldn't make it in time. That thing could use its gravity lift to pick the truck right up. We could lose the AI and the perpetrators..."
"Can't we intercept at all?"
"No guarantees. If they're desperate to get away..." She trailed off, as if distracted.
"What's the matter?" Leon could already tell there was something seriously wrong on her end. As if he needed even more complications.
"There's a Covenant cruiser emerging from behind the planet's moon," McGillon said. "Looks like we found their means of escape from this system."
"Can you hold them off?"
"Possibly, but we're only a frigate. They've got the heavier firepower."
"I'll deal with them down here, you focus on disabling that cruiser. If things go badly down here, then you'll need to stop that cruiser from leaving-"
"I'm well aware of that, Lieutenant," McGillon interrupted.
Leon returned his attention to the truck. He fired a few more pistol shots at the side window, emptying the magazine before taking a moment to reload. The truck started to close in on his side again, scraping up against the far smaller Warthog. Leon seized this opportunity and rose from his seat, grabbing hold of the door handle on the truck's side. Rounding a corner, the truck came onto a stretch of highway that ran by a steep hill-side with only a flimsy metal barrier between the road and the slope. Leon was slammed against the side of the truck rather forcefully as its driver took the turn sharply and quickly, sending the Warthog the Spartan had just been inside speeding into the barrier. It smashed through the rusted metal and went airborne for a brief moment as it hit the slope, before crashing down and rolling, leaving a large cloud of dust in its wake.
Leon held on tightly to the door handle, putting his pistol back to his waist before using his other hand to grip the side of the driver's cabin. With a hand on the handle, he pulled it and forced it open, almost tearing it off of its hinges. Inside was a Jackal, outfitted in dirty beige and grey armour and wearing a pair of thick goggles that came complete with a bright blue computerized heads-up display. The Jackal let go of the steering wheel, locking it into cruise control and freeing both of its hands. It pulled a curved, tribal looking blade from a sheath at its waist and turned to face the Spartan. The truck was on a fairly straight stretch of highway, so neither of them had to worry about the truck going off-road just yet.
Leon lunged forwards in the cramped confines of the driver's cabin, grabbing the Jackal's blade-wielding hand. He twisted it in one fluid motion, causing the bone at the alien's elbow to break with a rather loud and sickening crack! There was a spray of purple blood as bone broke through the skin and the alien screeched in pain and fell back against its chair, allowing Leon to put a hand to its throat before plunging it head first into the windshield. The glass shattered and he pushed the wounded alien out of the truck and across the hood. It tumbled across the front and disappeared under the truck, a sudden bump and followed by the sound of bones crunching indicating that the Jackal had met its end underneath the truck's wheels.
The truck itself was still in cruise control but Leon reached over and grabbed the wheel, turning the cruise control off and taking the next turn. He was not ready for the smaller truck that was parked dead in the middle of the highway around that corner, forcing him to stamp on the brakes and spin the wheel to one side. He was too late to stop the truck from going off-road, breaking through the barrier and starting down the slope, carried forwards by its own momentum. Being lurched about violently inside the cabin, Leon held on to the seat as the truck started to roll while kicking up a cloud of dust as it trundled down the slope.
It finally came to a halt at the base of the slope, now a dented wreck with missing parts. Leon, somewhat dazed, emerged from the driver's cabin, climbing onto the top of the truck as it lay on its side. He took a moment to regather his bearings, taking off his helmet and wiping the sweat from his brow while he looked around. Just who would park their truck in the middle of a highway, anyway?
Whoever had done it, he got the feeling it was not there from coincidence. He started towards the truck's rear, stopping halfway as he watched the Elite from earlier climb out.
Leon started running towards him, but the Elite was quick to turn around. He was holding a human-built pistol in one hand and fired a few shots, a few of which were absorbed by the Spartan's armour. Leon realized then how foolish he had been to take off his helmet, as doing so had deactivated his armour's personal shield.
Stumbling, Leon fell off of the truck and onto the sand, only a few metres from where a sharp drop lead straight into a ditch filled with sand coloured boulders. The Elite came around the side of the truck and raised the pistol in order to finish off the Spartan, but Leon grabbed a rock from close at hand and swivelled around, throwing it with considerable force towards the Elite. He caught the alien in the arm, causing it to drop the pistol. Leon jumped back onto his feet, aware of a dull pain near his ribs and a heavy sensation in his lungs that implied that one of the bullets he had taken had gone right through and busted into that organ. Regardless, he pressed forwards, lunging for the dropped pistol.
The Elite had recovered from the blow by this point and seemed to relish the thought of a proper fight. It was typical Sangheili pride at work, with Leon diving for the pistol only for the alien to kick the arm he had outstretched, sending pain shooting up to his shoulder. The pistol itself also received part of the blow, being launched a short distance before it clattered off of the edge and into the ditch several metres below. Leon rolled onto his back and lashed out with a powerful kick at one of the Elite's knees, causing him to buckle and giving the Spartan a chance to jump back onto his feet.
Facing the Elite, Leon could get a closer look at it. The armour was mostly grey and beige, coloured for the desert environment. Its arms were bare and its armour rugged in design. It wore no helmet and its eyes were blue in colour, each with a slitted black pupil in the centre. It swung a punch at Leon, who dodged and countered it, his close-combat training kicking in. Going for a low strike, Leon delivered a quick punch into the alien's stomach which caused it to grunt but it nonetheless countered his next move, grabbing his right arm before kicking him in the stomach and making him stumble backwards.
Winded, Leon nonetheless resumed the attack. He lunged for the Elite, tackling the bulky alien onto the ground. He delivered a sharp right hook across the Elite's face. The alien snarled and grabbed him with both hands, throwing him off and sending him into the dirt. The Elite was back on his feet quickly, delivering a powerful kick with one of its booted and hoofed feet that broke one of Leon's ribs.
Coughing up blood, Leon swallowed what he could and swung out with both legs. This made the Elite stumble again, allowing the Spartan to stand up and swing another punch. The Elite grabbed the arm when it was mere inches from its face and used its free hand to go in for a low attack near Leon's stomach. The Spartan countered this quickly, deflecting the blow and sending a powerful kick into the Elite's stomach. The alien slammed against the wrecked truck behind it, stunned for a few seconds. This allowed Leon to strike it across the face, knocking out a few of its sharp teeth, tenderizing the muscles in its quadruple-hinged jaw.
Leon sent a left-hook into its face to follow-up. The alien snarled again, deflecting the next strike and delivering one of its own. This one struck Leon across the face, sending a wave of pain through his skull that made him stumble backwards a few steps. He recovered quickly, as any Spartan would, but the Elite was quick to react, pushing the Spartan towards the edge that lead straight into the rocky ditch.
Up above, by the broken barrier along the highway, Leon caught a glimpse of another few aliens. They were Jackals, about three of them watching the fight from afar. One was larger than the other two, over six foot tall with a far more muscular frame. The three were outfitted in desert-coloured armour and rags, with the larger one, a Skirmisher, had started to level a beam rifle at the pair fighting below. Perhaps it had been these three who had left the truck in the middle of the road, with the intention to catch him off-guard?
Leon saw the AI disk fall from a pouch on the Elite's rugged armour. It was a small blue and green thing, no bigger than his thumb but capable of carrying a powerful and intelligent military AI that held a wealth of information. Such things had measures built in to ensure no enemy force could use them, but there was no way of knowing whether these renegades had the means of bypassing these fail-safes. Leon reached for the disk but the Elite stopped him, sending a punch into his chest that exacerbated the bullet wound already there, sending agonizing pain shooting through his torso.
Doing his best to fight through the pain, Leon charged into the Elite, knocking him to the ground before sending punch after punch into his head. It was unrelenting as Leon pounded the alien's skull into the dirt, dark purple blood spurting forth once the Elite's skull cracked open and the brain became visible. With alien blood soaking the front of his armour and dripping down his face, Leon slowly rose up from the dead alien and looked towards the Jackals watching from afar. He may have reacted faster to what came next had he not already been beaten and bloodied in places.
The beam rifle shot from the Skirmisher caught him dead in the centre of the chest. It burned painfully, severing the spine and causing his legs to give way beneath him. He fell backwards and off of the edge that took him straight into the ditch below. He landed on the boulders, his armour absorbing some of the impact but even that did not stop some of his bones from breaking in places. He could barely move his head, lying sprawled across the rocks, his gaze looking up the slope. He was conscious, pain wracking his body but unable to so much as lift a finger. Part of him wanted to lose consciousness, if only to end the ordeal. Realizing his situation, a wave of anger washed over him, an anger felt towards how powerless he had suddenly become.
The Skirmisher appeared at the edge above, looking down on his through a set of thick goggles. With one hand, it pushed them up from its face, its yellow eyes with their slitted pupils focusing on the crippled Spartan below. It spoke, its voice raspy and masculine with a surprisingly good grasp of English.
"I never thought I would get the opportunity to bring down a great Spartan warrior," the Skirmisher said mockingly. It bared its teeth in a cruel smile, the plume of dark feathers on its head tilting slightly backwards. "You tried valiantly, but even that was not enough." The Skirmisher paused for a moment. Leon wanted to lash out and break the alien's neck but he simply became more enraged at being unable to in his current state.
"Take what happened today as a lesson. Not even one of the mighty Spartan warriors can stop judgement from coming."
With that, the Skirmisher turned and walked away. Leon lost consciousness shortly afterwards, his broken body left in the harsh heat of the desert sun on some alien world.